Agency CEOs: overlook itchy feet at your peril

Overlook Itchy Feet
Posted: Aug 2020

Even though companies are now looking at getting back into the office post lockdown, normality feels like a long road. Employers have been presented with many challenges in the last few months – the financial ones are obvious, but I wonder if the deadliest is being overlooked?

What is the impact?

The job market is not a pretty place right now; Overall, hiring has been frozen by the lion’s share of agencies and many in-house comms teams. Many are flat-out and only hiring if it is ‘business critical’. There are a great deal more comms professionals, some of whom are fantastic, looking for roles right now, compared to the small number of roles which are available. The imbalance is evident, and one can see from the high application rate to jobs on LinkedIn that competition for roles is intense. Only the fittest will survive. Having worked through the financial crisis, it’s likely that a fair few people will re-train and leave the industry.

Will people move jobs in this climate?

Funnily enough, a global pandemic will not put everyone off from moving jobs, even if they are in a permanent role which they think is ‘safe’. I would guess that 80% of people who were keen to move jobs prior to the pandemic will still do so. The number one reason corporate comms professionals leave their job is lack of career progression.

The unseen challenge for employers

Over the last few months employers have had far more pressing challenges than their employees’ career progression. However, I would say it is probably their biggest ‘unseen’ challenge right now. How do you keep your team learning and progressing whilst working from home? We may be in this situation for six more months or perhaps longer. It is a long time to put your career on hold. I also get the impression that loyalty is ‘waning’ working from home, as many people have not seen their bosses for months.

Safe for now

The retention of staff right now is higher as there are fewer options for employees and some comms professionals will worry about taking a risk and being the last one in the door. However, the most common age range of a PR professional is 25-34 and moving jobs is less of an issue for millennials.

Don’t be fooled that your employees won’t move

Employers may not see it coming, but their best performers will still leave if they do not feel they are progressing. Even though we have been dealing with a crisis, employees will be looking out for their career. When the dust settles more roles will become available, and it will not surprise me if agency turnover shoots up. Promotions, learning and the feeling of moving forward are all important. Career aspirations continue, even when we hardly leave the house, and employers should forget this at their peril.

A finding from The Works Salary Guide 2020

PRCA PR and Communications Census 2019

The Works Search is a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

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